US election circus awash in cliches
By Daniel Patrick Welch
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jan 9, 2008, 00:09
In the run-up to this year's political circus, the buzzwords
of hope and change are being bandied about like the cheap currency they are. Divested
of any real meaning by their repetition and cynical misapplication, they
quickly become the empty slogans that make "election" season all the
Newspeak, long the vernacular of a self-perpetuating media
corporatocracy, has rendered the worst year in Iraq into proof that "the
surge is working." By continually culling the arguments, adjusting the
lens, and narrowing the field of discussion and inquiry, the media run by a
shrinking oligarchy has assured the US electorate that up is down: while
creative if misleading permutations of 'hope' and 'change' clog the airwaves,
there is virtually no chance at all that we will see anything but more
regurgitations of the status quo.
The most recent and depressing, if predictable, variation on
this insanity comes with the decisions to exclude Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Ron
Paul from various debates in the New Hampshire primary: Paul from a
Fox-sponsored debate, and Kucinich from one hosted by ABC and Facebook. But you
can see the point: for years the major parties and their allies in the media
have worked hard to exclude "fringe" candidates from third parties or
other wackos from foisting their dangerous opinions on unsuspecting voters.
Consequently, voters have been well protected over the years from loony
proposals such as the eight-hour day, abolition of slavery, and an end to
whatever imperialist adventure we may have been involved in at the time.
Not only have malcontents like Paul and Kucinich managed to
get elected under the tent of the major respective parties and hold these
elective offices for years; they have the audacity to try to move up the chain
and hold the parties to their core values. For shame!
While one may argue that, having poked their noses under the
fumigation tent of their respective wings of the War Party, these men get what
they deserve. Why shouldn�t they choke on the same poison used to sanitize the
field of public debate to which all other politicians are subjected?
I can�t mount a defense that rises above simple logic, a
kryptonite to which the system has obviously proved itself increasingly
impervious. But why candidates who are obviously competing in the arena set out
by the gatekeepers should be excluded in the very first contested primary is
simply beyond the pale. Who the hell are they to restrict access to our
airwaves in this way? It is wise to remember that they are controlling our
airwaves with the people�s permission. Yet emboldened by their successes in
squelching debate in recent years, the media kingmakers have determined that
they can go the extra mile. And the parties, co-conspirators in every crime
against humanity wrought by this criminal administration despite their weak
protests, are quick to tighten the noose. Liberals have had no real voice in
the Democratic Party in a generation, so protests will be feeble. At least the
New Hampshire Republicans had the integrity to withdraw their co-sponsorship of
the Fox debate in protest.
So US voters have no need to hear the only candidate who
embraces single-payer health care, a solution adopted to some degree by almost
every developed nation on earth, and an answer to a crisis of enormous
proportions. Likewise, we have no use for the only candidate who steadfastly
opposes the expansion of US empire. All the other candidates will keep us in
Iraq for a very long time. None will speak up for the Palestinians in any
meaningful way, or challenge the unspoken ban on open discussion of issues in
the Middle East. None will face up to the dragon in the room, which is the disastrous
and resource-devouring war machine that is quickly sucking the life and spirit
out of our democracy and society.
Leftists -- or what passes for such in the US today --
wrinkle their noses at Paul. I, for one, take him at his word that he has a lot
in common with someone like Kucinich. And really, who is to say what society
might be formed over the rotten carcass of the War Party? Paul himself has said
that there is a lot of common work to be done before he gets to the parts of
his program where left and right diverge -- and that is a hell of a long way
from where we are today. Who is to say what taxes we would want or need, what
government programs we could afford, once the trillions in The Skim are
redirected away from the bloated military and arms manufacturers. We in the US
face an anomaly faced by no other polity on earth, spending as much on war as
all other nations combined. There is simply no discussion either possible or
necessary before this monster is tamed, and true distinctions of left and right
seem almost impossible.
And as for the welfare state, Libertarian Paul agrees with
the left argument that much of it is consumed by the corporate welfare state:
handouts to corporations dwarf any money spent on humans, and always have. In
addition, this cozy relationship between business and government is quickly
leading to a proto-fascist restriction of civil liberties that all
conscientious revolutionaries predict and abhor. And the next president had
better be prepared to lead a post-imperial America, whether advocates of
dismantling that empire are excluded from debate or not. The whole world
already knows what US politicians can't seem to grasp. Reality around the world
will catch up to us while candy-coated sound bites about this Great Nation, Our
Destiny, and all the other triumphalist crap are still ringing in our ears.
I don't endorse Ron Paul, or Dennis Kucinich, or anyone else
involved in this farce. None of them will have much effect on a system so
rotten and rigged as to make real change anathema to the system, and,
therefore, out of bounds for polite discussion. And before the cynics call me
cynical, I believe firmly that hope springs eternal, and that true and lasting
change is the only real hope for our country and our world. It is the peddling
of false hope that constitutes a war crime. Both the Japanese and Nazi empires
peddled such hope to the end, and had their people firmly convinced that
victory was around the corner. So perhaps I�m still a bit na�ve after all.
Still, and contrary to experience, I continue to be shocked at how brazen the
agents of the system will be in their attempt to drive citizens toward the
cattle chute of ideological pablum. And until Americans shake off their
political Rufinol and realize that the excluded candidates speak for them more
often than the approved ones, we can forget any improvements to a system
driving us into bankruptcy and financial slavery; the only real change we can
count on is the dwindling few coins that jingle in our pockets.
� 2008 Daniel
Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to danielpwelch.com.
singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem,
Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School. Translations
of articles are available in over two dozen languages.
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